Nvidia & ATI in court over price fixing
"Class actions charges against Nvidia and ATI (now AMD) reveal that the two companies may have fixed prices and staged competition"
Nvidia & ATI playing games with consumers?
Towards the end of last week, an email suggesting Nvidia and ATI have been in cahoots by fixing prices artificially high and staggering the releases of their GPUs was read in court as part of a class action lawsuit against both companies.
This single suit combines 51 separate suits against Nvidia and ATI (AMD). Alleged in the suit is that the two companies have, for several years, held secret meetings to fix prices, synchronize their product launches and stage competition to cover up their cooperation.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup told lawyers representing the plaintiffs, "This is not a bad document for you. It is not a home run but it is a base hit." Alsup had previously criticized defense lawyers at the opening of the trial for attempting to keep "trade secrets" under seal and out of the trial, saying, "This court is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of your companies. I am against you hiding information from the public. If we get to summary judgment in this case, nothing will be under seal."
The incriminating email sent back in 2002 by Nvidia's Senior Vice Persident of Marketing, Dan Vivoli to Dave Orton, ATI CEO said:
"I really think we should work harder together on the marketing front. As you and I have talked about, even though we are competitors, we have the common goal of making our category a well positioned, respected playing field. $5 and $8 stocks are a result of no respect."
"That's not good for the defense," Alsup said after reading the document. "A jury would like to see this."
You can find a detailed breakdown of the suit, including charts that show price-spread between NVIDIA and ATI products over three time-scales: Before the 'conspiracy period', during and after a federal grand jury launched an investigation and issued subpoenas to both companies can be found here
So it looks like Nvidia and ATI have been a bit naughty. It must happen in pretty much every industry to a certain extent, but if you're gonna do it, the trick is not to get caught!
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